Warwickshire County Council is in great shape for the ‘going local’ challenges of the next decade, following a major internal shake-up.
That’s the view of Council leader Cllr Alan Farnell, who today officially launched the next phase of the Council’s ‘new ways of working’ initiative with an ‘at home’ for council staff.
The revamped authority will now be putting enormous emphasis on improved customer access, stronger partnerships and a culture of ‘entrepreneurship’, says Cllr Farnell.
“There has been huge change in public services over the past eight years, and there will be even more over the next 5 -10 years,” he added.
“Apart from the government’s ‘every child matters’ agenda, which means we have had to completely rethink the way we provide services for our children and young people, there is a drive to provide more and more services at neighbourhood level.
“This means focussing more than ever on our customers, who tell us again and again that they want to be able to access public services all in one place – regardless of who the supplier is. We need to cut out duplication and pool our efforts if we are to meet this challenge, and we’ve taken the first important steps by looking long and hard at the way we organise ourselves.”
Cllr Farnell admitted that from the public’s point of view little appears to have changed. “What the public will see from April 1 is very much business as usual. But a lot has happened behind the scenes – the engine-room has been overhauled and we now have greater potential for bringing about the changes our customers are demanding.”
Chief Executive Jim Graham reinforced Cllr Farnell’s view: “Over the next few months we will be putting much more effort into building a more entrepreneurial culture. We need to be more creative and innovative, at every level. We need to harness the talent we possess, not stifle it.”
He had, he said, a vision of what WCC would look like in 10 years time:
“Almost all local services would be delivered at a local, neighbourhood level - supported by instant access information and a mobile workforce. Creative decision making would be made ‘on the ground’ by frontline staff, based on the customer’s individual needs and unhampered by bureaucracy. Staff from different organisations would work seamlessly together to deliver the best possible service to the customer.”
“We are now in the best shape ever for meeting this challenge and realising this vision. But the focus from now on has to be on the frontline. That’s where the changes will really be felt, and that’s why we invited these people here today. We have come a long way in the past few months, but this is only a milestone on a much longer journey.”